|The Sears site on Route 7 in Seven Corners|
The Seven Corners Land Use and Transportation Task Force, at its Aug. 26 meeting, deferred a scheduled vote on a redevelopment plan for the Sears site on Leesburg Pike until Sept. 9. The task force had planned to select one of three options spelling out the amounts of multifamily housing, townhouses, retail, and office uses for the site currently occupied by a Sears store and two office buildings.
Task force co-chair John Thillman presented a fourth option, calling for 110 townhouses, 50,000 square feet of office space, 34,000 to 134,000 square feet of retail, and 315 to 415 apartment units. The number of apartments would depend on how much retail there would be.
Under the fourth option, the retail would be facing Route 7 on the ground floor of two six-story buildings and in another smaller building. The townhouses would be at the back of the property, closest to the existing residential neighborhood.
None of the four options would extend Juniper Lane to Leesburg Pike, which is a crucial issue for local residents.
At the request of City of Falls Church officials, the task force’s transportation plan calling for a “ring road” around the Seven Corners intersection has been revised to eliminate a proposed section of road in Falls Church that would have connected Hillwood Avenue across Route 7 to Roosevelt Road.
Thillman and Kris Morley-Nikfar of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation both insisted at the Aug. 26 meeting that the Falls Church section of the ring road was never considered essential to the project. They said that not having that piece wouldn’t disrupt the flow of traffic through the intersection. “We never had control of what’s in Falls Church,” Thillman noted.
One key issue that will need to be addressed when the redevelopment of Seven Corners gets under way is the extent to which affordable housing will be incorporated into new projects—primarily in the area between Route 50 and Wilson Boulevard where so many lower-income people currently live.
Thillman says the task force plan calls for the replacement of affordable housing on a one-to-one basis with additional requirements for new affordable units. The exact number of units would be negotiated with developers.
The county uses a formula based on 60 to 120 percent of area median income to determine if housing is considered affordable. Task force member Jim Edmondson, whose company, E&G Group owns the Seven Corners Apartments, argues that many of the households currently living in the area have incomes well below 60 percent of AMI and that redevelopment could lead to 90 percent of residents being displaced.
Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak at the Seven Corners task force’s Sept. 9 meeting. The comment period will take place after the regular meeting, so local residents will be able to respond to the task force discussion. Mason Supervisor Penny Gross will give a presentation on the task force to the Falls Church City Council on Sept. 15.
The task force’s final regular meeting will be Sept. 23, during which it plans to approve a proposed amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan. An additional task force meeting has been scheduled for Oct. 1 to consider implementation issues, such as zoning and the site plan process.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Seven Corners plan amendment on Oct. 23.